Published by: Bear Acuda
The 2023 NFL season for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been a rollercoaster, up to this point. Injuries, a fired offensive coordinator, and a hot seat for our legendary chief, head coach Mike Tomlin, still didn’t prevent us from reaching a 7-4 record with two games approaching against the worst the NFL has to offer. We would play host to a floundering Arizona Cardinals team (2-10), and then travel to Foxborough on a short week to play an uninspired New England Patriots football club (2-10) on Thursday Night Football.
And then, it happened.
With 5:10 remaining in the second quarter, starting quarterback Kenny Pickett would attempt to run the ball into the endzone to break a 3-3 tie score. Unfortunately, before he could cross the goal line, Cardinals LB Josh Woods would missile in, blowing up the play and knocking Pickett out of the remainder of the game in the process. At first glance, it looked like a head injury, but after further evaluation, the Steelers medical staff confirmed it was actually an ankle injury. This meant we would have to turn to the “Garbage Pail Kid” backup QB Mitch Trubisky, and, of course, Trubisky did not disappoint the people expecting him to play awful. The Cardinals would basically shut us out the remainder of the game (scrub points from the Cards playing “Prevent” defense) and win 24-10. The worst part was not the loss itself, but the future health of our QB1.
This isn’t me saying that Pickett is the heart and soul of our team; far from it. Up to this point, he has shown to be an average talent with spurts of decency. His first-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft got all of our hopes up, and since we’ve desperately been looking for a replacement for our football god HOF QB Ben Roethlisberger; Steelers QB Mason Rudolph and the Trubisky pick-up haven’t amounted to our standards of excellence. Pickett was to be our “New Hope.”
Problem is, Pickett plays more like a Jawa than a Jedi.
Still, the kid is the best option we have, and with an “out” designation for last night’s TNF game, we got to see just how important his loss means to our future success. Trubisky threw the ball 35 times for only 190 yards with an avg. for completion yardage of 5.4. At no point did we make a play over 25 yards, nor did Trubisky threaten the back-end of the Patriots secondary by stretching the field. Sure, play calling can be attributed to another lackadaisical offensive performance, but this points more to a lack of willingness, and most importantly, trust in Trubisky to run the full offense. While Pickett hasn’t been lighting up the stat sheets, he has been helping the Steelers put Ws in the win column and in a position to battle the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North crown. Even more important, he has shown an ability to stretch the field and make winning plays during crunch time (the final 5:00 minutes of a football game).
This is not to put the entire blame on Mitchell, because our defense (or lack-their-of) certainly played a role in the loss. And sure, having a short week to play on TNF isn’t helpful. But letting an offense as bad as the Patriots, with a quarterback as sub-par as Bailey Zappe (now starting in place of the benched Mac Jones) throw for 3 tuggs in the first half is nothing short of a letdown. Still, our defense was not helped by an offense that couldn’t stay on the field. While we did eventually match one of the Patriots touchdown drives, we were down 21-3 before you could say “Silent Night”.
There was a late push in the fourth quarter by the Steelers to get the game back within striking distance, but we couldn’t finish the job, ending the game 21-18 on the wrong side. If there is one thing Pickett has shown a knack for, it’s been game-winning drives. He’s got three this season and seven overall. For a quarterback playing in his first full season as a starter, that’s pretty damn good.
While Pickett may be more frustrating than entertaining to watch, he is nowhere near as nauseating as Trubisky (or Rudolph, for that matter). If we are to make the playoffs, our best chance is to have a healthy Kenny Pickett etched in at QB1, and in reality, the success of our franchise lies on his shoulders.
What do you think?
Is Kenny Pickett the right man for the job in Steel Town, USA?
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